Following along with DearMYRTLE’s “Don’t Panic! Review The Written Conclusion Study Group instead” posted at my old blog, this is the week to be studying Chapter 7 from Thomas W. Jones’ Mastering Genealogical Proof (Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society, 2013). [Book available from the publisher here and in Kindle format, described here.] Dr. Jones refers to the GPS (Genealogical Proof Standard) summarized at the Board for Certification of Genealogists website here: http://bcgcertification.org/resources/standard.html
The fifth element of the GPS is a soundly reasoned, coherently written conclusion that according to the GPS:
- Eliminates the possibility that the conclusion is based on bias, preconception, or inadequate appreciation of the evidence
- Explains how the evidence led to the conclusion
A proof statement is perhaps the easiest to compile. It may only take a sentence to describe what is directly stated in a document from a “credible source” as Dr. Jones puts it.
It seems to me that a written conclusion is just like sitting down together with something like a church or court record and “talking it through” with Ol’ Myrt here. Write it up like we’re talking over a cup of herb tea. Explain it in simple terms. And with a proof statement there are no nuances, no need to question the motivation of the creator of the document. We aren’t using a compiled genealogy book where so-called facts have no citations.
Another good example might be a death certificate, signed by the physician. Ol’ Myrt’s proof statement for this document is:
From the Idaho Bureau of Vital Statistics for Twin Falls, Twin Falls County, Idaho Death Certificate #55994 for Chas. [Charles] Switzer Weiser died on 29 Dec 1926 due to chronic intestinal nephritis, signed by the attending physician.
Note I put his full name in [square brackets] since the document lists my paternal great-grandfather as Chas. I couldn’t read the doctor’s signature.
I haven’t touched the other information – about his wife, age, occupation, parents, residence. Ol’ Myrt here is only making a proof statement to support the fact of the man’s death.
Happy family tree climbing!
Your friend in genealogy.